Mother and daughter making heart shape outdoors in front of trees in a park.

February marks American Heart Month. To celebrate, we’re rounding up the top 5 heart-health questions our users have asked our doctors.


1. Are skipped heartbeats dangerous?

Usually, skipped heartbeats aren’t a cause for too much concern.

According to cardiologist Dr. Peter Banitt, “If you feel a skipping of the heart beat that goes away after only a few seconds , that’s usually not dangerous”.

You should only be concerned if the skipping lasts for many minutes, if you feel dizzy, or if you have shortness of breath and chest pains. These could be indicators of a more serious heart condition, so set up some time to chat with your doctor.


2. Why does my heart pound and race when I first wake up?

There are a few different reasons you could be rising with a racing heart.

Dr. John Garner suggests that a combination of “increased cortisol, drop in blood volume from very mild volume loss (you didn’t drink water while asleep), and positional changes as you get up” could cause your heart to race first thing in the morning.

More likely than not, however, Dr. Bennett Werner thinks you’re probably just more aware of your normal heartbeat upon waking, which could lead you to believe it’s beating more rapidly than usual. He recommends talking with your doctor about wearing a heart rate monitor to find your normal rhythm.


3. Why can I feel my heartbeat in my stomach?

Despite the stomach being vital to your heart health, that’s not what you’re feeling in your tummy.

Dr. Corey Clay and Dr. Warren Foster both agree that the abdominal aorta, “the large artery descending from the heart”, is the most likely culprit for the pulsing in your stomach. This artery lies right on top of your diaphragm, which sits right above your stomach, so what you’re really feeling is the blood pumping through this artery.


4. Is heart failure the same as a heart attack?

Not according to Dr. David Greenfield. A heart attack is “ an injury to the heart muscle from compromised blood flow due to blockage in a coronary artery”.

Heart failure occurs when “the heart muscle is not able to squeeze or contract normally or is stiff and not able to relax normally and its overall pumping function is impaired”.

While a heart attack can cause heart failure, heart failure can also be due to high blood pressure as well as heart valve issues.

Heart failure is a very complex condition that can be due to a number of factors, so be sure to read through our library of doctor’s insights on heart attacks and heart failure.


5. Why can I hear my heartbeat in my ears sometimes?

Did you know there’s an artery located right by your ears? Dr. Robert Eckelson knows!

Dr. Eckelson explains that the auriculotemporal artery and never are very close to the ear, right behind the jaw joint. The “heartbeat” you hear in your ear is actually the sound of the blood flow in this artery due to how close it is to your ear.


You can join in on the conversation of heart health or ask a doctor a question or concern of your own on our virtual healthcare platform.


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Hannah Dennison

Content Marketing Manager and Writer at HealthTap. Lover of all words, most books, and the Oxford comma.

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